December 2011 MAINE COASTAL NEWS Page 13. Commercial Fishing News MISCELLANEOUS COMMERCIAL FISHING NEWS later in the season.
Possession limits are unchanged. Seven species of skate are managed as part of the skate complex including barndoor, thorny, smooth, winter, little, clearnose and rosette. However, possession of barndoor, thorny, and smooth skates remains prohibited be- cause stocks are still rebuilding from previ- ously depleted levels.
NOAA releases socioeconomic study to assist stakeholder workshop on how to improve groundfish management
NOAA released the 2010 Final Report on the Performance of the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery. This re- port builds upon earlier release of catch and value information for the 2010 groundfish season and includes new information on fish- ery performance, leasing of quota, costs and employment.
NOAA is presenting the findings from the report at the New England Fishery Man- agement Council’s “lessons learned” work- shop this week in Portland, Maine. The work- shop is expected to yield important new rec- ommendations for the groundfish fishery that NOAA and the Council can work to put in place. These actions, coupled with other actions underway at NOAA and through the Council, will help fishermen and fishing com- munities operate successfully despite low quotas required by Congress to end over- fishing and rebuild stocks.
NOAA is committed to working with the Council to allow fishermen to take full advan- tage of available quotas. Sector management is part of that effort, as well as actions taken in the 2011 fishing year to improve the industry’s access to fish. Over the last year, NOAA moved quickly to increase catch lev- els based on new science on fish stocks and allowed fishermen to fish in some previously closed areas, in particular areas close to the shore where smaller vessels fish. NOAA and the Council are considering additional ac- tions, such as allowing fishing in previously closed areas and rolling over unused quota to the following fishing year.
Recognizing the continuing financial challenges in the fishery, NOAA Administra- tor Dr. Jane Lubchenco announced on Octo- ber 19, 2011 that NOAA would fund at-sea monitoring through the end of the 2012 fish- ing year which ends on April 13, 2013. Today’s report, and related economic infor- mation makes clear that the fishery is not yet in position to assume these costs. The report found that if sector vessels paid for monitor- ing in 2010, trip costs as a percent of revenue would rise by 38 to 42 percent for vessels in the 30 to 50 foot size, for example. The report shows that groundfish rev- enues decreased in 2010 compared to 2009.
But overall revenues to groundfish vessels, including revenues from non-groundfish species, increased. Despite lower catch limits required to end overfishing and rebuild stocks, the groundfish industry obtained more value from fewer fish landed and less fishing effort expended.
Estimates of the average vessel owner’s net and gross revenues increased for groundfish vessels in all size classes, owing largely to higher prices for fish. Overall vessel trip costs increased for many vessels in com- parison to 2009. The study also showed the continuation of trends begun during the past decade of fewer, more efficient fishing opera- tions and declining numbers of active boats. The trend of consolidation of revenues on fewer vessels that began during the last decade continued in 2010. In 2007-2009, 20 percent of vessels captured about 60 percent of gross revenues and just over 68 percent of groundfish gross revenues. In 2010, 20 per- cent of vessels captured just over 65 percent of gross revenues and nearly 80 percent of groundfish gross revenues. Knowing the likelihood these trends would continue, NOAA urged the New England Fishery Man- agement Council to reconsider current limits on accumulation of catch shares. In re- sponse, the Council is working on an amend- ment to reduce the likelihood that groundfish permit holders will control excessive shares of the resource.
“The long-term trend of consolidation in the New England groundfish industry con- tinues and the impact it is having on indi- vidual fishermen and fishing communities concerns us, especially in these hard eco- nomic times,” said Eric Schwaab, NOAA as- sistant administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service. “We are releasing this study today for stakeholders to help us iden- tify ways to improve the management of the fishery. NOAA will use feedback from the workshop to develop a series of regulatory and non-regulatory reforms that we will bring to the Council for review and action at its November meeting.”
As reported earlier this year, the ground- fish fleet caught 38 percent of the fish allo- cated for catch in 2010. This is an increase in the percentage of allowable catch captured compared to recent years and an indication that sector management is helping the indus- try increase use and take full advantage of available quotas.
“There are many possible reasons for this 38 percent figure, including lack of avail- ability of fish in certain local areas, difficulties in balancing annual catch allocations, lack of capital to purchase annual catch allocations, and the inability to target certain species while avoiding others,” said Andrew Kitts, an economist and one of the study’s authors. NOAA will continue to work with the indus-
try on regulatory and non-regulatory action to increase this percent in the future. The report looks at the fishery in 2010, a year in which annual catch limits required by Congressional legislation designed to pre- vent overfishing and rebuild overfished stocks took effect. Under Amendment 16, fishermen can form groups and fish an allot- ted share of the total allowed catch, or fish individually with a limit on the number of days spent fishing. Most vessels with a substan- tial history of landing groundfish are fishing under the sector option. The report is avail- able online.
NOAA Seeks Information on River Herring for Review on Whether Listing Under Endangered Species Act is War- ranted; Information due January 3 NOAA has determined that a petition to list alewife and blueback herring, collectively referred to as river herring, under the Endan-
gered Species Act presents enough scien- tific and commercial information to merit fur- ther review. As a result, the agency will con- duct a formal review of river herring popula- tion status and trends. NOAA will work with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commis- sion to utilize information in their ongoing stock assessment for river herring. NOAA will also consider information contained in the petition, published literature and other information about the historic and current range of river herring, their physical and biological habitat requirements, population status and trends, and threats. To ensure that the review is comprehensive, NOAA is solic- iting information pertaining to river herring from any interested party. Information must be received by January 3, 2012.
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